Seoul, June 4 (Yonhap) -- When Korean Chi Kap-chong was made an honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit Monday as part of the Queen's Birthday New Zealand Honors list, he was in august company. One of very few non-New Zealanders to win the award, Chi shared the distinction this year with the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The orders are awarded to those "who in any field of endeavor, have rendered meritorious service to New Zealand or have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits."
Chi Kap-chong (L) is congratulated by New Zealand Ambassador to South Korea Patrick Rata (R) on becoming an honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit as deputy head of mission Daniel Mellsop and defense attache Col. Jeremy Ramsden look on. (Courtesy of N.Z. Embassy)
In presenting Chi with the letter investing him with the honor, New Zealand Ambassador to South Korea Patrick Rata said the former war correspondent continued to be important to New Zealand-Korea relations.
As chairman of the U.N. Korean War Allies Association, Chi was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand ANZAC memorial at Gapyeong, about 60 kilometers east of Seoul.
"Chairman Chi's tireless work over more than five decades to promote better understanding between the U.N. allies, including New Zealand, and Korea is highly valued by New Zealand," Rata said.
Chi has been honored previously by many nations for his part in honoring service members of other countries who died in the 1950-1953 Korean War, during which he was a correspondent for the Britain-based Reuters news agency.
He said the New Zealand order was made more special by being bestowed on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.
"I didn't ask for any decorations," he said. "I am serving. This is my job."
Chi said many Korean people did not know what other countries served in the Korean War and that was why he made individual memorials for each nation.
Speaking of his days as a young reporter, Chi told an anecdote of being in New Zealand in 1968 covering the state visit of President Park Chung-hee. He spoke to a young New Zealand Army officer who had lost his father in the war when he was only 3 years old.
He told the president about the officer and Park made a point of thanking the New Zealander.
"We must remember them," Chi said Monday.